Note from Charlie – good customer service comes in many forms

May 5th, 2016 Charlie Funk
Charlie Funk

Ok, I admit it. I messed up! How could I schedule a business trip on the night of the NCAA championship game? As I looked at my flight schedule, I saw that I would be arriving at New York’s LaGuardia Airport about two hours before tip-off. Ok, I thought, that should give me time to get to the hotel, eat dinner and see the game. Then I read an article in The Wall Street Journal that bemoaned the state of disrepair of this busy airport as well as the fact that it was the only airport in the United States last year that had more than 25 percent of its flights arrive more than 15 minutes late.  My fingers were crossed …

I was upbeat as I arrived early in Chicago and made my way to the gate to board for New York. That’s when the problems began. I kept getting texts that pushed back departure time. No one at the gate seemed concerned, in fact, there was no one at the gate. No announcements, nothing. A phone call found out that the aircraft taking us to New York was grounded in Toronto with mechanical problems (United must not have thought this was worthy of an announcement). Fortunately, I was able to get on a later flight and arrived in NYC just as the Villanova—North Carolina game tipped off.

I rushed outside and found a cab. I looked at my phone and saw the game was only 8 minutes old. I asked the cabbie if he could find the “championship game” on the radio. This drew a blank look. The gentleman did not speak fluent English, so we had a little back and forth trying to communicate. Finally, he said “which station?” I quickly looked up the station serving NYC and said “101.9 FM!” We continued to fight the language barrier and (we were now on the freeway headed to Manhattan) he abruptly crossed two lanes of traffic and slammed on the brakes on the shoulder. Passing cars were honking at us. He then turned and said words to the effect of “we will figure this out!” 60 seconds later, we had Westwood One and the game blared loud and clear.

I wish I had taken a picture of his face. He was so very pleased that he had accommodated the wishes of his customer. He didn’t know who was playing and he didn’t care. He just knew his customer riding in the back was happy. That’s what mattered most to him. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the hotel. I profusely thanked this excellent cabbie and generously tipped him. After checking in, I was able to watch the second half and, of course, the thrilling finish of the game.

Isn’t this what good customer service is about? It sometimes means going the extra mile to exceed your customer’s expectations. Had I just followed the game on my cell phone, I would have been happy. Being able to listen to the last ten minutes of the first half delighted me and created an experience that I would long remember.

At MidWestOne, our 81-year mission statement has been to “take care of our customers and those who should be.” Each month we recognize our associates (nominated by their peers) who have gone beyond the call of duty in some aspect of our mission statement. Just in the past year, we’ve seen an employee acting quickly on a Sunday night to restore debit card access for a European bound traveler. We’ve seen a drive-up teller go flying out of the building on a windy day to retrieve a check that had blown away from the depositor. Last month, we saw one of our Minnesota personal bankers take time from her busy schedule to go to an elderly, and somewhat homebound, lady’s home to notarize a document for her.

No matter the venue, the next time you receive exceptional customer service, be sure you express your appreciation and do it with abundance.  It is cause for celebration!

Charlie Funk

About the author

Charlie Funk is President and CEO of MidWestOne Bank. He works with the MidWestOne team to oversee the daily operation of the bank.

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